Insurance Times's willingness to lend a sympathetic ear to the increasingly irrelevant, strident and desperate IIB director general, Andrew Paddick is completely at odds with the attitude of most brokers and intermediaries I meet and do business with.

Indeed, the lead article and editorial of your issue of March 29 shows exactly why the industry has little patience left for Andrew Paddick. He seems to forget that the Department of Trade and Industry and the Treasury asked the insurance industry to “work together” to devise a self-regulatory regime.

From the outset, he cried foul and demonstrated his unwillingness to play ball, despite continuing conciliatory approaches from the rest of the insurance world working on the General Insurance Standards Council (GISC) project.

Now he would have us believe that the OFT director general should be sacked. Why? Because he does not concur with the views of Saint Andrew. Who next? The heads of Ofwat, Ofgas, Ofstead or the Strategic Rail Authority, because they are the sole regulator in their respective industries?

Perhaps Paddick believes that general insurance is that much more complicated than banking that it needs two regulators. Talk about “Paddick in Wonderland”.

I admit I would like to see some changes in the GISC approach. Particularly, I wish it required higher professional qualifications and standards from practitioners who provide advice and asked for clearer point-of-sale differentiation between direct insurers, tied agents and independent intermediaries acting as agent of the client.

However, a sound start has been made. Both the government, which set the regulatory framework, and consumer groups appear pleased with the progress made .

So, please Insurance Times, don't continue to be associated with the problem rather than the solution.
Laurie Harding
Laurie Harding Associates

Exemplary behaviour
I agree with Tony Cornell that insurers ought to be generous with foot-and-mouth payouts (Insurance Times, March 29). But as a broker based near the livestock auction mart in Carlisle and specialising in agricultural insurance, I have been pleasantly surprised.

The response of my brokerage's panel of insurers has been exemplary.

The following companies deserve special mention:

  • AIUA, which settled our first foot-and-mouth claim – a six-figure sum – in seven working days. Payment was made before the farmer received his compensation from the Ministry of Agriculture.
  • Rural Insurance, which agreed to settle the first foot-and-mouth claim that we have with them immediately after they received the relevant Ministry of Agriculture papers.

    Again, their payment will reach the farmer before the Ministry's. Endorsements for return premiums where livestock cover has been deleted from policies are being received by return.

    Other insurers have waived or reduced direct debit charges and have recognised the plight of farmers when settling claims. We could not have expected any more from the insurers with which we deal.

    It is unfortunate that insurers rarely receive praise from brokers or the public, so in this case but we would like to extend ours.
    Kevin Coulthard
    Borderway Insurance Brokers

    Put the public straight
    I am reading the letter Spurious Grounds (Insurance Times, March 22) with a rising feeling of alarm. Here is yet another, in this case anonymous, correspondent insisting that the insurance industry has a moral duty to pay claims for events against which it has collected no premium.

    Coming hard on the heels of MP Tony Worthington's campaign for asbestosis sufferers, comments like this demonstrate how far we need to go to educate the public – most of whom are also our customers and very many of them our owners – about what general insurance is exactly.

    The public perception seems to be that the industry is full of disconnected fat-cats and “awash with money”, to quote one consumer on the radio recently.

    Those who work in insurance, however, know that the industry doesn't have a huge stash of cash. If we have to pay, then so does Mr Worthington and everyone else.

    Higher premiums and lower dividends are the result if we have to pay claims for which we have not budgeted. And it is hardly fair to leave policyholders and shareholders to shoulder the cost of national disasters.

    Surely the honest thing is to fund uninsured disasters through taxation. That way, at least, everyone suffers more or less equally.

    It is time we all accepted that a key priority for each one of us in the industry is to spell out the facts of insurance life clearly, strongly and simply. If the public knew the basics, we might not be made the scapegoats for every disaster.
    Geoff Leeds FCII

    Slack attitude
    I am puzzled by Mike Slack's venomous attitude towards the Institute of Insurance Brokers (IIB). In his recent letter to Insurance Times (March 22), he states: “The IIB and the Insurance Brokers' Registration Council (IBRC) would not accept membership from mere intermediaries such as myself.”

    Yet, as Mike well knows, membership of both organisations depends upon the applicant being a registered broker. Mike was not, and his firm could therefore not join the IIB.

    He seems to have conveniently forgotten that it was the IIB that encouraged him to set up the AIIB and that provided him with considerable administrative assistance in the early days.

    Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. Mike, I am not quite sure why you have turned on Andrew Paddick and the IIB, but I wish you would make your motives clear.
    Bryan Whicher
    Whichers Boylan & James

    Road rage
    I was pleased to see the conclusions reached in Christine Seib's article Uncovered (Insurance Times, March 22). Personally, I cannot see any justification for making premium concessions to young drivers, only to witness them drive irresponsibly and create a danger to others.

    If they cannot afford the costs of driving legitimately, let them stay off the road until they can do so. Both they and other road users will benefit from the wait.

    Market and company statistics on young drivers are somewhat handicapped by many parents' regrettable tendency to “front” their offspring's motor insurance by pretending that they, and not the young person, are the main user of the car.

    This is another area where mature, honest drivers are subsidising others' dishonesty.

    Unfortunately, busy insurance staff often fail to spot the obvious signs on documentation. In fact, many insurers are getting rid of claim forms and using electronic data, so staff don't have the chance to see documentation. This is unfortunate, because claims forms are traditionally the place where the truth comes out.

    The tragedy of these cases is that they are only discovered when a claim is made, where the driver loses their car and the insurers are left with a large claim and slim chances of reimbursement.

    When it comes to young drivers, underwriters need to get their acts together and rate the risks correctly.

    In the case of uninsured drivers, I wish legislators would formally make driving without insurance the serious crime we all recognise it to be.
    Roy Rodger FCII
    Motor Insurance Consultancy and Training

    Blast from the past
    In 1970, Vehicle & General Insurance asked if I would prefer their monthly account to be issued in policy order, alphabetical order or date order. The monthly account was then presented according to my choice.

    Surely today's insurers should be able to offer the same service.

    March 2001 is the 30th anniversary of the collapse of Vehicle & General – allegedly pushed out of business by tariff insurers' pressure on the Board of Trade during a bitter and solid seven-week postal strike.

    If I recall correctly, it was one of 50 or so insurers that collapsed between 1966 and 1972.

    During its short life from 1963 to 1971, Vehicle & General played a major role in demonstrating the need to break the price-fixing of the many powerful tariff insurers.

    These tariff insurers applied premium-rating structures that were exactly the same for car and commercial insurances as well as for fire, employer's liability and home insurance. And they had precisely the same policy wording for each policy class.
    MP Ward
    Cumbria Insurance Brokers

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